Two Medicine Wheel Projects,  were named as among the 15 best Public Art Projects of 2016!

“South of Hy-Brasil,” by Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile's "South of Hy-Brasil" floats in Boston's Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile’s “South of Hy-Brasil” floats in Boston’s Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile’s “South of Hy-Brasil” floats in Boston’s Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Gazing down Boston’s Back Bay Fens, it emerged from between the trees — a mysterious concoction of fabric and plywood and thatch, resembling maybe an overturned boat or some sort of shell-cottage.

In fact it was a sculpture, temporary floating in the lagoon behind Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts this fall. It was inspired by Hy-Brasil, an island that began appearing in maps of Ireland’s west coast in the 14th century — but perhaps not in reality. Connected with the Irish belief in Tír na nÓg — the “otherworld” or “land of eternal youth” — it was an elusive place, said to appear only once every seven years, shrouded in mist.

“It would come and go like a mirage,” visiting Irish artist Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile explained. “It would appear and disappear. They couldn’t find it.”

“Medicine Wheel,” by Michael Dowling and friends

The 25th annual Medicine Wheel procession began at Boston City Hall, which was lit red for the occasion. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

The 25th annual Medicine Wheel procession began at Boston City Hall, which was lit red for the occasion. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

It was raining at 11 on the night of Dec. 1 as about 30 people gathered under the overhang of Boston City Hall, the concrete building lit all in red (taking advantage of the new, outdoor LED lighting that debuted at the structure in October), to begin the 25th annual “Medicine Wheel” vigil to remember the millions of people lost to AIDS.

“In the early years, artists marked this day to hold the human heart, to hold the human condition,” Boston artist Michael Dowling, who founded the event, said to launch this year’s 24-hour vigil. It began with a solemn lantern procession and dancing from City Hall to the Boston Center for the Arts, where a monumental shrine was set up in the Cyclorama.

“I’m 62 years old. Of my generation, one in four of us died from AIDS,” Dowling said. “I’ve always believed art is the thing that guides us through those difficult times, and those wonderful times.”

WBUR article by Greg Cook


Holiday Celebration

Medicine Wheel Holiday Celebration,

honoring 25 years of Art and Healing positions Medicine Wheel for an exciting 2017

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more photos by our good friend Bimal Nepal  click here


l-r Nora Baston, Mary Dowling, Michael Dowling, Linda Dorcena Forry, Mike Moore, Joe Rull, Dan Hunt, Mark McGonagle, Annissa Essaibi George

Medicine Wheel 25

From the historic lighting of City hall Red to the Processional in the rain, the AIDS Quilt, the 318 Visual Artists and the 150 performing artists Medicine Wheel 25 was remarkable!

Never has it been more obvious how art is the threshold that allows us to create a space together to hold the human condition!


For more pictures by Brian McCarthy  click here





Calling All Artists

Calling all performing  Artists

In the late 80s December 1 was known as Day Without Art/ World AIDS Day.  It was no mystery that the arts community had been hit hard by the new and emerging pandemic.  The Music, Dance, Theater and Visual arts world felt the weight  and  the enormity of the loss.  The loss took on deeper meaning because the arts so often were the thing that provided us, the public,  with the means to navigate the meaningful in our lives.

Where,  we asked ourselves,  would we be without art?

The Art Community came together to amplify the situation, often by leaving marquees dark or draping works of art in shrouds.  Art works also were created that would hold and remind us of the lives we feared history may forget.  The Names Project/ The AIDS Quilt would become the largest public art project in America.  A bearing witness and a testimony to those times and a Beacon to the future.

A 36 foot section of the AIDS Quilt will also be on display, part of the largest public art project in America. It was made to remember the names we feared history may forget. This year over 250 artists from Boston and beyond will contribute 4 foot by 4 foot panels to line the walls of the Cyclorama, saying we do not forget each and everyone of them!

We also have the tradition of inviting performance artists to mark one of the hours of the 24 hour vigil with, song, dance, poetry, music, performance art  etc.   Please consider adding your voice to this powerful testimony that the arts continue to be the source that can  guide us though arid times.

please contact Georgia Lyman at  if you are able to make an artistic offering!

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Thank you

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25th Medicine Wheel Vigil

call to artistsCALLING ALL ARTISTS


In 1987 a small group gathered in a San Francisco storefront to document the lives they feared history would forget.  This action served as the beginning of the Names Project, Also known as the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  On December 1, 1989 A Day Without Art began as a National Day of Mourning in response to the AIDS Crisis. In 1989 Boston Artists created thousands of 12” x 4” paper prayers in response to a call by Yerserki Gallery, well-known artists, students, youth, and children did these. In 1992 Medicine Wheel was built in the Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts.  The Medicine Wheel Vigil has become an enduring testimony to HIV/AIDS in our lives.

In those early years we were being asked the unimaginable question,

Where would we be without art?

This year I invite the artistic community of Boston, New England and beyond to give testimony and invite reflection on the power of art help us navigate and facilitate who we are for ourselves and who we can be for one another.

For visual artists: create a 4 foot by 4 foot panel to become part of a mural to line the walls of the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts.  Work should be based in bearing witness, testimony, remembrance, love, loss, longing and survival

v  Paint and Panels are available for pick up at Medicine Wheel 110 K Street, South Boston, MA 02127.

  • Limited palette of Black and red
  • Other materials may be added but they should be black and red as well

v  We can arrange to deliver panels to you or your groups

v  You can join us at Medicine Wheel and work on your panel here: through Thursday November 18th

  • Tuesdays, 1:00 pm -9:30 pm
  • Wednesdays, 10:00 am -9:30 pm
  • Thursdays, 3:00 pm- 7:00 pm

Panels Should be returned to Medicine Wheel, 110 K Street by November 21, 0r delivered by noon time on November 28th to the Cyclorama Building of the Boston Center for the Arts 539 Tremont Street.

For performing artists: Help us sanctify Medicine Wheel by making an artistic of poetry, song, dance, music or performance.  Each year we invite artists to offer a breathtaking experience to mark each hour of the 24-hour vigil.

For the spiritual community:
Mark one of the 24 hours with a blessing, prayer, ritual or meditation

For the public:  Join us from City Hall Plaza on November 30th 10:45 pm as we light City Hall red and process to the cyclorama for the 24 hour Medicine wheel Vigil

Join us and cast your hand to create a spiral of interlocking hands to honor our connections. Vigil begins at 11:30 pm, Wednesday 11/30/16 and goes for the full 24 hours of Thursday 12/01/16

For more info call 617-268-6700 or 617-872-6065

Or email

Read more about Medicine  Wheel Vigil